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Author Archives: Marissa Samake

About Marissa Samake

After two years as Yeah serving as Ambassador of Mali in New Delhi, India we are heading home to Mali to contest the 2018 Presidential elections. In May 2015, Yeah was called by President IBK to be the Ambassador of Mali to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand. In just two years he has overcome many challenges and helped grow diplomatic relations between Mali and all these foreign governments. Under his leadership, he was able to organize two visits by President IBK, built partnerships with textile organizations to help Mali improve processing and use of cotton, safeguarded Mali’s heritage by acquiring a $500,000 donation from India to restore the ancient Timbuktu manuscripts damaged by jihadists in 2013, finalized the agreement for a $100 million line of credit to construct electrical transmission lines and hosted the first high level visits from the Indian VP and the Indian Foreign Minister to Mali. Yeah was a Presidential candidate in 2013. He served as Mayor of Ouelessebougou, Mali from 2009-2015 and in his 6 years as Mayor, he has turned the city from one of the bottom in 703 cities to one of the top ten in the country in terms of development, transparency and accountability. We also continue to work with rural populations in the field of education, healthcare, clean water and clean energy under the US-based foundation Empower Mali (www.empowermali.org). We continue to work hard to raise the people of Mali from within by providing them the resources and opportunities that empower them out of poverty. Follow our journey on my website www.firstladymali.com Find out how you can help at www.yeahsamake.com

Rallying the Youth for Mali

As May continues, our party leaders including Yeah headed to the remote areas in Mali. Much of Mali’s population resides in these rural villages. There are about 18000+ villages in Mali, many of which are accessible by only dirt roads.

It has been a busy time for Team Samake! In addition to visiting many villages, our efforts have been focused getting  our youth enthused.

VISIT TO BONKORO 

In May, Yeah and his delegation headed to the village of Bonkoro which is in the commune of Beleko. Bonkoro is only accessible by very bumpy dirt roads. While in Bonkoro, Yeah visited with the chief of the village. While in Bonkoro, the villagers gathered in large numbers to hear Yeah discuss his vision and his bold plan for a better Mali.

YEAH4MALI SOCCER CUP 

The youth leaders of our party headed to Senou where they participated in hosting the Yeah Samake football cup. The event marked the opening of 3 weeks of competition between the different football clubs of Senou. Football events are a great way to engage our youth and it gives our youth leaders a chance to share about Yeah’s mission to build a better Mali for all our youth that will provide better opportunities and jobs for them. Currently Mali’s unemployment is a steep 35%+ and there is a lack opportunities for our youth.

Before the match Yeah had an opportunity to share his vision for Mali with the youth of Senou. We are blessed to have such a great team of youth leaders in all the areas of Mali that share our plans on how Yeah can build a better Mali.

YOUTH VOLUNTEERS COMMIT

The highlight of our visits and meetings this past week culminated in a meeting that was held for the youth. Despite the rains, 200+ youth leaders, from the 6 communes of the main city of Bamako, gathered at the party headquarters to hear Yeah speak. Hearing of all that Yeah has done for Mali and the potential of what he can achieve for the youth, they committed to devoting their time and efforts to spread the word about Yeah in their own communities and social groups. This is huge!! The waterfall impact of this could be a wider reach of Yeah’s message to different communities that these youth work and live in.

The reach of our message of service as leadership change is growing. Popular support for Yeah is growing faster than party organization. This month we opened new regional offices in the main city of Segou, Senou and Sirakoro in the Sikasso region.

Additionally, Yeah is constantly on regional and national radio and on TV talking about his platform and sharing his message with the people of Mali.

We are making leaps and bounds reaching the far corners of Mali.  Yeah is one of the only candidates that was actually born and brought up in the rural areas. So he is familiar with the conditions that 80% of Malians have lived in for the last 58 years. He understands what it means to not have enough to eat, what it means to not have a job after graduation, what it means to support a big family. Here is a candidate who understands what a majority of the Malian people are suffering from because he himself has been through all the conditions that besiege ordinary Malians. Here is a Malian who has turned his own community of 55,000+ people and hopes to share its success with all Mali.

I believe he is the man Mali desperately needs.

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Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Past Posts

 

Reaching beyond Mali’s borders

May is only midway through and we are already off to such a great start.

In May, Yeah visited the neighboring countries of Ghana and Senegal. These two West African countries are home to many voting Malians who work or go to school in these countries.

In the first week of May, Yeah headed down to Accra, Ghana to visit with key Ghanaian government officials and Malian student leaders. Yeah was received by the Vice President of Ghana, H.E Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. During this visit, they exchanged on the need for both Mali and Ghana to collaborate on bigger regional projects in the field of transport, energy, agriculture and especially security.  The speaker of the Parliament of Ghana, the Honorable Aaron Mike Oquaye also hosted Yeah and his delegation at his residence for a special lunch in his honor. It was a great opportunity for Yeah to meet these leaders in Ghana and share his fresh perspectives on regional integration for a brighter future in Africa. Yeah finally met with the leaders of the association of students and trainees. He shared his vision for a successful Mali. We have always believed that Mali’s future lies with its youth and we have encouraged the youth to take a more important role in leadership opportunities within their communities. Yeah emboldened the community of young Malians in Ghana with his vision that with integrity he would turn Mali around into a success story.

A few days later, Yeah went to Senegal. Senegal and Mali have always shared a colonial history which brought a common link between our cultures and food. Mali and Senegal were once integrated as the Federal Republic of Mali. We have a great number of Malians who reside Senegal for business and trade, but also students. Yeah was received by our party supporters in Dakar, Senegal. Since he was only there for an overnight visit, his schedule was jam packed as he met with supporters and Malians tired of the old way of politics. While in Dakar he met with the elders of the Malian community in Senegal and their counselors.  The elder acts as a patriarch and guide that holds and helps individuals of the Malian community. They were amazed and happy to hear of the concrete actions taken by Yeah to help our people and communities in Mali and gave him their blessing for success. Yeah was then welcomed by the union of leaders of the Malian union of truck drivers. He listened to all their concerns and answered their questions. Many of these workers have become a forgotten people running into many troubles with passport and id issues and receiving no help.

Everywhere we go, the complaint remains the same. People are tired of the old style of corrupt leadership. They are tired that their local and central government cannot find a solution and are quick to pass them on.

We can offer them a fresh leadership. One that is based on results and creating efficient government systems that serve our people. There is only one man for that job and that is Yeah!!

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Posted by on May 15, 2018 in Past Posts

 

Exciting Updates from the trail

This past weekend, we were excited to lead a 10-person strong delegation to share our vision in Segou, one the ten regions of Mali. Through two days, we visited the remote villages of Koila, Maraka Koungo and Konobougou. These events were covered by the national Mali TV Channel, other TV channels, radio and print media.

The Segou region represents 15.06 percent of the electorate with a population of 1,029,000 people, and is located 240km from the main city of Bamako. While the main city is well invested in by the central government, the surrounding villages remain poor and have limited access to quality education, healthcare and running water.

Our team first stopped in the villages of Maraka Koungo and Konobougou. There we met with many villagers and spoke about our party PACP and our hopes for a new Mali run with sound principles and good governance. We also inaugurated the first regional headquarters of the party in the region of Segou. Our party PACP is fast spreading our reach into the different regions of Mali! Yeah, accompanied by his party members, also visited the traditional and religious leaders of Segou.

The high point of our tour was when we visited the remote village of Koila. It was a historic moment as Koila welcomed the first presidential candidate in its history. Koila is a village accessible by its dusty, bumpy roads and is about 2.5 hours from the main city of Segou and a further 4.5 hours from the capital city. The village does not have access to electricity or running water and the villagers reside in mud huts.

As we headed towards the village, hundreds of supporters on motorcycles escorted our delegation to the village. We received gun salutes as our procession rolled in and Yeah waved to his party supporters from the car. The villagers turned out in droves to hear Yeah speak. The village leaders spoke about the challenges that they were facing, especially in the areas of healthcare and education. Currently, the children of Koila do not have a middle school and the mothers of the village do not want their children to walk the deserted rural roads to the nearest village. The result is that many of the children of the village do not have an education greater than the 6th grade.  As Yeah spoke, he promised the people of Koila that he would work hard to get a middle school built in Koila because he believed that education was their right. He spoke of his commitment to help Koila fulfil their basic needs and related his own story of his life in America, our foundation Empower Mali, and what he was able to accomplish as a Mayor and Ambassador. After the event, we visited the maternity clinic and the main clinic. It was heartbreaking to visit these facilities. These could barely be called functioning. The equipment was basic and almost non-existent. There was one nurse for the main center and a midwife for the maternity center. Both emphasized a deep need for working equipment but especially for medicines. The pharmacy was almost empty. These were local government run facilities that were functioning with nothing because it seemed as if they were forgotten. Their patients had to endure no medicine and minimal preventative care. Yeah spoke emphatically against this and committed to help Koila get the necessary help they needed and especially the medicines for the population.

Koila like so many villages in Mali speak about the harsh realities that face many of our Malian brothers and sisters. Mali should not be condemned to this mediocrity. Mali is not a poor country but rather one that is suffering from bad decisions and bad governance. I truly believe that Yeah can turn this around. Yeah has the ability to make the difference.

It was such a joy to meet and visit the people of Koila, Maraka Koungo and Konobougou!! Great things are happening on the Samake2018 trail. Hope is alive and the people are desperately searching for change. We believe Yeah Samake will be that change.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2018 in Past Posts

 

MALI’S #1 CHALLENGE: EDUCATION

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Watching the children in Mali, my heart sometimes catches. For many of our children in Mali, there is no future under the current circumstances. Many of them will never have the opportunity to make something of themselves. Many girls will get married of by the time they are 15. Many boys, having no better option, will farm or follow the family business. Many more will remain without a job and with no opportunity, will join the masses that beg on the street to supplement what they make so they can take care of their family.

The one thing that can truly help shape Mali into a success story in the long run is education. Today 70% of Mali’s population is in the age group 0-25. Yet only 31% of Mali’s population is literate. This figure is even lower for girls. While the government was able to put an elementary school in most villages, much of Mali’s 80% rural population lacks a middle school. Simply, because the government does not have the resources to build middle schools. So, after 6th grade, many children will drop out of school simply because they have no access to one. For many a middle school is several villages and towns away.

I cannot imagine my children walking 5 miles (7km) a day to go to school. Not just once, but 4 times because in Mali, children return home for lunch. Now add in dirty, dusty roads and predators and you have a situation where most parents will keep their children at home.

For the past 14 years we have raised awareness about the one thing that has impacted our own lives. And that is the power of education. Yeah and I have both been blessed with extraordinary circumstances and blessings. And it is our education that has taken us many places. But not just that, it is our education that ensures that our own children will never know the pain of hunger or the lack of opportunity. Our parents by giving us an education helped break the cycle of poverty and the lack of opportunities that spring from illiteracy.

Through the work of our foundation Empower Mali, we have helped bring more than 24 middle schools to Mali. By putting schools in remote villages, education becomes accessible. Especially for young girls.

As a Mayor, efficient transparent use of tax revenue allowed Yeah to bring the first high school in Ouelessebougou, fix dilapidated school structures and ensure no teacher shortages.

As Ambassador, he made education a key part of our mission. Yeah was able to partner with universities to garner scholarships for our Malian students to come study in India and the 9 other countries we served. Additionally, he helped create a safer environment for our Malian students and made himself fully accessible to our students.

As President, one of the key things we will do is help build more middle schools and teachers housing in remote villages. By building teachers housing in the villages, it encourages teachers to stay long term in the villages. Additionally, we hope to provide adult literacy classes, additional training for teachers and incentivize parents to keep their kids in school.

We should not condemn our future generations to a life without a good education. Otherwise the cycle of poverty will continue. Education remains the cornerstone of development.

Mali’s hope is Yeah Samake. We can sit all day long and talk about what Mali’s leaders are pretending they do. Or we can look at a record of a man who has done much for his community in Ouelessebougou, and as an Ambassador. A man of the people. Yeah Samake.

We can do this! We can bring change to Mali. Become a part of our journey and help our bid by donating $50 at www.yeahsamake.com

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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Past Posts

 

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Leadership is Service

When I first met Yeah at University in 2003, he told me that he wanted to run for President of Mali, his country. I thought he was joking. As we got married and began our journey together, I realized he was not joking. In everything he did he always put Mali ahead. I realized very early on that serving Malians was the center of every decision he made.

Back when Yeah was in Mali, after he had graduated with an English degree from the prestigious Ecole Normale de Bamako, he returned to his city of Ouélessébougou. He soon realized that there were not enough teachers in his village. The government did not have funds to pay for teachers. Yeah could have moved to Bamako and gotten a well paying job there, however he chose to stay in Ouélessébougou. He volunteered at the local middle schools teaching English.

After graduating from BYU Utah with his Masters in Public Policy, Yeah partnered with Adrian Escalante to form a foundation that would serve the educational needs of the people of Mali. Through his leadership and fundraising efforts as the director, 17 middle schools were built in the rural villages of Mali. Each of these schools served 150+ children from the community increasing access to quality education. Additionally, Yeah headed many medical and dental missions from Utah helping connect quality resources with a deep need in Mali.

In 2009, the Mayor of his city was up for re-election. The commune was in crisis. The Mayors office had embezzled a lot of money and the result was that the city was suffering with inadequate access to education, electricity and clean running water. We didn’t have the means, but Yeah wanted deeply to run for the Mayor’s seat. He believed that he could change the way the Mayors office was run and ensure that all the money was used to serve the needs of his people in Ouélessébougou. Yeah ran and won with 86% of the vote. He became one of the youngest mayors in Mali. Using the education he learnt and the lessons of service he experienced in Utah, he quickly turned Ouélessébougou, a city of 55000 people, into one of the top ten communities in Mali. During his time as Mayor from 2009-2015, Ouélessébougou got its first big multi-service hospital, the biggest solar panel field, running water and the first high school. Business started to boom and many new hotels and new businesses opened their doors in Ouélessébougou. All of this would not have been possible without people recognizing that Yeah was a good man who truly loved his people and his community and wanted to make life better for them.

In 2012, we believed that we could impact change on a bigger scale. Yeah wanted to run for the Presidency of Mali believing that corruption and lack of management was responsible for the destitute plight of many Malians. In a country of 16 million people, Mali in 2012 remained one of the poorest countries in the world despite being the 3rd largest gold producer in Africa and the second largest cotton producer. The leaders were prospering but Malians were suffering. Committed to making a change, we left the comforts of America and moved our family to Mali. We could easily have stayed but we chose Mali because we believed that Yeah’s leadership and service could bring change. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful in our bid. But we didn’t loose the opportunity to get a larger name recognition and broaden the bases of our political party.
Through our Utah-based foundation Empower Mali, we continued strong, hoping to make an impact on our fellow Malians living in the rural villages. Through EM, we built 6 more middle schools, teachers houses, donated tractors to villages, initiated scholarship for Malians to study abroad, brought clean energy in the form of electricity generating playgrounds and donated textbooks. Each project Yeah initiated was done as a partnership where the village contributed and became part of their future success.

In 2015, the President of Mali, who Yeah contested against in the 2012/13 Elections appointed him to be Ambassador of Mali to India and 9 other Asian countries. Yeah was ambivalent and unsure as to whether he could effectively serve his fellow Malians abroad as much as he could in Mali. We chose to go. We believed that Yeah could help impact policy at a global level and that the impact would be felt by local Malians. That holds true today, two and half years later. Today, through Yeah’s efforts, Mali has secured funding for the $100 million electric line that will connect Sikasso and Bamako, a commitment to fight terrorism in Mali’s Northern region, scholarships for Malian students to study in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and many more exciting new opportunities.

At every step of our journey these past 15 years, I have never seen a man who loves his country more than Yeah. He sleeps, breathes and is Malian to his very core. Love for one’s country is seen not in the things we say but in the things we do. Yeah has fought for many opportunities in education, healthcare, clean running water and access to a better quality of life. But the fight is far from over. Today more than over, Malians remain destitute, a victim of poverty and lack of access to basic necessities. I once heard a saying “ If Serving is below you, then Leadership is beyond you”. Yeah has served his people from day one but he can do so much more if given the chance.

That is why we have chosen to run for the Presidency again on July 29, 2018. But we need your help. We are fundraising outside Mali because we don’t want to be controlled and influenced by the donations of special interest groups within Mali. Our goal is not to empower them but rather to serve the needs of our people. The 17 million Malians who deserve better. I believe Yeah Samake is that man who can change the course of their path for the better. But we need your help to help us win this election not only for our fellow Malians today but for our generations in Mali to come.

We can do this! We can bring change to Mali. Become a part of our journey and help our bid by donating $50 at www.Yeahsamake.com


 

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2018 in Past Posts

 

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Happy Woman’s Day !

Yesterday, around the globe, we celebrated and recognized the value of women, on a personal and professional level.

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I have always had the utmost faith in my gender. We women are strong, capable individuals that can do anything. However, our biggest strength lies in our compassion, courage and spirit of service. I have always been surrounded by strong women.

My mother is an amazing person. Growing up, she worked herself raw so that I and my brother could have the things we needed and more often the things we simply wanted. She worked extra hard so that we could go to America and get a college degree. I did not come from a well off family, but I will tell you, there was not a day when I felt lacking for anything. She always told me, there is no word such as can’t, remove it from your dictionary. Today, I even tell my own children that. She brought me up well and with a confidence to take on the world. I could never have done the things I do today without her belief in my abilities.

My Grandma, was also an amazing woman. She was a principal at her school in Goa, India. I still remember our vacations when we would visit her. From her, I learned how to be strong. My daughter is named after her for her strength and intelligence.

My life too has been affected in an indirect way by Yeah’s mother Sanamba Doumbia. This was an amazing woman. She is the reason Yeah is what he is today. She was his strength, his confidence and his beautiful spirit. He learned how to serve from his mother and his mother always knew and made him believe that he would do great things one day.

The Malian women are some of the strongest women I know. It is my firm belief that we are put in the circumstances that we can handle. I believe that God truly knew how strong the spirit of the Malian woman was when he destined her to Mali. These women are up at the crack of dawn making breakfast. On average, each woman will bear about 6 children. In addition to caring for these children, she will cook, clean and make sure every child and man is fed before she feeds herself. Sometimes, she will go to the market and sell odds and ends to contribute. She is the first one to wake up each morning and the last one usually to go to bed. And the most beautiful part is she does this with a smile. Her spirit is rarely beaten.

Already we see so much change just in the last few years. The Malian woman possesses an amazing spirit of entrepreneurship. Today, our Malian women are growing the skills they have developed in taking care of their families and themselves by using it to raise capital within their communities. They are the predominant economic actors at the local level. As you travel the streets of the capital Bamako or even the markets of smaller villages, many vendors meet the eye. Many of them are women selling anything from the famed Shea butter to cooked snacks and fruits or vegetables. Additionally, many women are applying their know how to create cooperatives that start a business and then employ other women thereby creating a local market within the community. Many others are learning solar skills and employing those skills to light up their homes, villages and communities. Their spirit of entrepreneurship is not only driving them to success but also giving an impetus to our economy in Mali.

Join me today and celebrate the spirit that is Mali: the spirit of every woman. God bless women everywhere.

Yeah and I are fighting for a Mali where our women and girls can be empowered to change their futures for the better. Education and Opportunity are the keys. The Elections are fast approaching and we need your help. You can make a donation towards our fight for change in Mali @ www.yeahsamake.com

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Past Posts

 

It’s Official!

Well its official !! After two years of Yeah serving as Ambassador of Mali to India and 9 other Asian countries, we have decided to throw Yeah’s hat into the race for the President of Mali.

January 2018 was the last month of Yeah’s terms as Ambassador. During our term as Ambassador, Yeah worked tirelessly to strengthen diplomatic ties between Mali and the nations of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, and Thailand.

During his tenure he lead a number of successful efforts to build stronger relationships between Mali and the countries he covered, benefiting Malians living at home and abroad. These efforts included:

  • Hosting President H.E Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at the Africa India Summit in 2015
  • Hosting the first high level visit by the Indian government to Mali by initiating the visit in 2016 of H.E Hamid Ansari, the Vice President of India and also the visit in 2017 of the Indian Minister of External Affairs H.E Mobashar Jawad Akbar;
  • Securing a commitment from India to provide resources to help Mali fight terrorism;
  • Finalizing an agreement for a $100 million line of credit to construct electrical transmission lines from Sikasso to Bamako, successfully concluding negotiations that had been stalled since 2012;
  • Building partnerships with textile organizations to help Mali improve processing and use of cotton—Mali’s main agricultural product and one of the country’s leading exports;
  • Obtaining scholarships for Malian military members to train in Bangladesh;
  • Obtaining multiple scholarships for Malian students to study in Indian universities;
  • Safeguarding Mali’s heritage by acquiring a $500,000 donation from India to restore the ancient Timbuktu manuscripts damaged by jihadists in 2013;
  • Garnering a commitment from the Indian government to build an English language center in Bamako;
  • Forging an agreement allowing Malian citizens to travel to Indonesia without needing to obtain a visa; and
  • Initiating historic visits of high-level Indian officials to Mali, building relationships that will result in improved relationships and cooperation in the future.

When Yeah returned to Mali end January 2018, he was welcomed with great fanfare at the airport. Members of our party turned out in big numbers to welcome him home. As his car made it to Ouelessebougou, a line of supporters followed his car for 40km from the airport to our city. The excitement was palatable.

Welcome back

Yeah Samake welcomed back to his home city of Ouelessebougou where he served as Mayor for 6 years

Last time, we contested the elections under our party PACP-Parti Pour L’Action Civique et Patriotic (Party for Civic and Patriotic Action). Yeah created PACP in 2012 to appeal to the young Malians desire to see a government driven by fresh policies and service driven policies to impact the Malian people.

On February 24, 2018, key party leaders and delegates from the different regions and counties of Mali traveled to the capital Bamako to officially nominate Yeah as the candidate for President at the general elections on July 29, 2018.

We are so excited to head into a new phase of our journey to help bring change to Mali. Conditions  are no better today than when we contested for President 5 years ago. Today, the basic challenges still remain access to quality education and decent jobs, security, electricity, clean water and a lack of governance. We are committed to bring change to Mali. We believe A New Mali is Possible. However, its beginning must be rooted first and foremost in a leadership with Integrity.

We are ready. We are ready to fight for Malians everywhere so that a true democracy may be restored. A democracy that is not in name alone, but one that is demonstrated by a leader who is willing to acknowledge and meet the needs of his people. We are fighting for a Mali where three meals a day and at least a high school degree becomes a norm. We are fighting for a Mali where basic amenities like clean water and electricity become accessible in all regions. It is time to fight for Mali and break her chains of bondage to poverty, illiteracy and poor governance. July is fast approaching and we are giving it all we got for a stable and prosperous Mali.

Can we count on you? Together for Mali!

PLEASE CHECK OUR WEBSITE WWW.YEAHSAMAKE.COM TO LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR JULY 2018 PRESIDENTIAL BID

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Posted by on March 3, 2018 in Past Posts

 
 
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